Worship for Kids: January 20, 2019

December 15th, 2018

From a Child's Point of View

Today's readings speak of the way God's great power is shown to us—an important subject for children. Children need the security of knowing that God is the strongest power in the universe (Ps. 36). They also need to know that God uses this enormous power to care for us (John 2) , to work in history on our behalf (Isaiah 62), and to give each of us our own powers to use and enjoy (1 Cor. 12). Because the language and images in these passages are often beyond children, worship leaders will need to concentrate on the theme, rather than on the passages.

Old Testament: Isaiah 62:1-5. The message is that God can and will eventually save us from our political and social messes. The specific example is that God will rescue the people of Jerusalem from captivity and reestablish the Jewish nation. To get from the specific example to the general message requires more explanation of Jewish history and Old Testament marriage images than time or the children will allow. This passage is for adult Bible students.

Psalm: 36:5-10. The psalmist praises God by citing attributes such as faithfulness, righteousness, and justice—words that are too abstract for children. References to drinking from the river of God's goodness, finding protection in the shadow of God's wings, and seeing the light of God do not speak clearly to children. Still, if the psalm is read with a sense of happy confidence and joy, the children will feel, rather than understand, these praises.

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. Verses 4-11 of this passage may be the easiest of today's lections for the children to understand. God has the power to give each of us special gifts or powers. Although each gift or power is different, all are of great value. Paul makes his point clearly in verses 4-7. Unfortunately for children, the examples that follow are difficult to translate from their first-century setting. Rather than explain each example, help the children identify the gifts/powers from God that they see in themselves and in others in the congregation. In citing these gifts, be sure to include "gifts of the spirit," such as patience in dealing with others, as well as talents such as musical ability.

Gospel: John 2:1-11. The writer of John explains who Jesus is by presenting a series of meaning-filled signs that Jesus performed. The first sign of God's power and love is that, through Jesus, God keeps a party going by providing extra high-quality refreshments. John's message is that God has the power to give us more than just what we need; God surprises us with unnecessary abundance. To children, this says that God wants all of them to have more than just enough to get by or to meet their needs. God's plan is that everyone should have all the wonderful, good things of life.

Children are often puzzled by Jesus' conversation with his mother. John includes that conversation to make the point that Jesus acted as he did because he chose to live by God's plan—not because his mother or anyone else told him what to do. Likewise, children today are called to live by God's plan because they choose to do so—not because their parents, teachers, or anyone else tells them to do so.

Watch Words

Watch out for the big power words such as omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence.

Rather than speaking of God's vindication of Jerusalem (Isa. 62) or of other oppressed groups, tell specifically what God did or promised.

Instead of faithfulness or steadfastness (Ps. 36), speak of loyalty. God is loyal to us, even when we are not loyal to God.

Let the Children Sing

"I Sing the Almighty Power of God" is first choice.

This is a Sunday for several praise hymns, such as "Now Thank We All Our God," "For the Beauty of the Earth," and "All People That on Earth Do Dwell."

The Liturgical Child

1. Read the psalm responsively, between either leader and people or two halves of the congregation. When introducing the psalm, point out that when we read it, we join the poet in telling God how great we think God is. Challenge worshipers to show how they feel by the way they say the words:

Lord, your constant love reaches the heavens;
Your faithfulness extends to the skies.
Your righteousness is towering like the mountains;
Your justice is like the depths of the sea.
People and animals are in your care.
How precious, O God, is your constant love!
We find protection under the shadow of your wings.
We feast on the abundant food you provide;
You let us drink from the river of your goodness.
You are the source of all life,
And because of your light, we see the light.
(All) Continue to love those who know you
and to do good to those who are righteous.
(Based on GNB)

Sermon Resources

1. To start the people thinking about power and the powerful people and groups in our world today, name political leaders and sports figures. If your children are caught up in Super Bowl frenzy, talk about the power claims in the chant "We're Number One!"

2. Name and discuss the power brokers of the cartoon world—Superman or Batman, Spider Woman, and the Ninja Turtles. For children who know themselves to be very unpowerful because of their size and age, such figures often become talismen against all the powers they fear. Children need to hear that God is even more powerful and dependable than any of those heroes and heroines. There is no evil power that God cannot conquer.

3. Compare "grabbing" power with "giving" power. Use the descriptions of God's power in today's lections as examples of giving power. Challenge worshipers to choose giving power by citing examples:

Albert Schweitzer was already becoming a famous concert organist. (This does not sound exciting today, but in his day, an organist was like a rock star.) But he chose to become a missionary doctor. He gave up riches and fame to spend the rest of his life taking care of people deep in the jungles of Africa.

Millard Fuller had made a million dollars by the time he was thirty years old. He had cars, houses, and a fancy boat. But he was not happy. Then he decided to change his goal. His new goal was to build a million homes for people who had no decent place to live. He founded Habitat for Humanity. Now people all around the world are working with him to build thousands of homes every year. He says he is happier now in his small house and building houses for others than he ever was in his fancy house.
Cite examples of people in your congregation who put their giving power to work. Remember to include examples of children who sing in the choir, participate in mission projects, or whatever else your children do.

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